Friday, March 16, 2018

Basic Bread for Jahson

This is the simplified version to Overnight Bread ( which can be prepared with your eyes closed. Variations of whole wheat to white flour; liquid (water, whole or soured milk, coconut milk); and oven temperature (375 is a softer bread; 410 is crusty) and time in the oven (45 minutes chewy; 60 minutes for drier crumb). It's almost impossible to spoil bread; and the more you bake you understand how far you can go in any direction: liquid, heat, time!

This is an "all white" version baked at higher temp; the technique for cutting is on a diameter; then to slice perpendicular to the cut surface!

Here we go:

Late in the evening, use a big bowl to mix together, shape into a ragged ball and cover. Leave overnight:
Flour, 3 cups white (heaping)
Salt, teaspoon
Yeast, half teaspoon or half pack
Water, one cup

Next morning, mix in:
Whole wheat flour, 2 cups
White flour, one cup and more to ensure dough is not sticky
Milk or water or coconut milk, one cup

Knead well, shape into a ball, dust with flour, cover and set aside for an hour or so.

Grease a big iron pot, or large loaf pan. I use coconut oil and just swish it around to coat the inside of the pot or pan.

Punch down the ball of dough, dust with more flour, shape and set in the greased pot/ pan and leave until it has risen well up to the top of your pot/pan, at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 380. Bake for 40 minutes. Turn out of the pot or pan (careful, HOT!) and return to the oven for 10- 20 minutes. Cool well before cutting.

Bread is the satisfying filler that goes with everything: salad, meat, soup! Enjoy!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Working with the recipe on Mom's Best Old-fashioned Oats, we enhanced with Cocobel chocolate chips and cocoa. The result is more-ish: cookies you might have for breakfast, or an anytime snack.

Chocolate oatmeal for breakfast

Butter, 4 ounces (113gm)
Brown sugar, 1 cup
Egg, one
Vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon (or a dish of cinnamon or other spice)

Cocoa powder, heaping tablespoon
Flour, 3/4 cup
Baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt, tip of a teaspoon
Old-fashioned oats, 2 cups
Chocolate chips, 1/2 cup

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Allow butter to soften at room temperature. Combine butter and sugar until creamy; I use a fork. Add egg and flavour, and continue to incorporate well. Add cocoa powder and flour, baking powder and salt, and mix well. Add oats and chocolate chips, mixing until well combined.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture on an ungreased baking sheet, two inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes - you will start smelling the cookies - for chewy cookies. Leave a minute more for crunchy cookies. Remove from heat; lift off the pan with a spatula while still warm.

Snacking cookies fancied up with chocolate

Friday, February 23, 2018

Cocoa Chili

Every meal is an opportunity to make food more comfortable, to nourish the soul. Especially when I am cooking for family and friends with specific dietary needs or tastes, the preparation is a meditation. Today, I  created a spicy soupy saucy dish around red (kidney) beans for vegan guests. I didn't want anyone to miss the meat. Umami was what I was looking for, the indefinable sensory adventure that touches all taste buds. There's no need for high heat, and you can keep the pot bubbling for a few hours as you add and enhance. Be prepared to cook over a long afternoon, or most of the day. There's no hurrying chili. The result is a comforting meat-less chili for a breezy evening. Serve with slices of dasheen, thin slices of zucchini to top the hot soup, and a tangy cucumber salad. Leftover chili seems to taste better the day after.

Cocobel cocoa powder, smoky cayenne and cinnamon within; chadon beni on top! Bread on the side

Here's what you need:
Red (kidney) beans, one pound dried

Tomatoes, approx 10-12 small (plum), chopped
Onions, three small peeled and chopped
Garlic, three cloves, chopped
Hot pepper, piece without seeds (or with seeds for more heat)
Ginger, fingertip piece, chopped
Cooking oil (coconut or grapeseed) half cup

Cinnamon stick
Cocoa powder, Cocobel preferred, heaping tablespoon or more
Brown sugar, heaping tablespoon
Smoked chili and cayenne spice rub, from Heaven Bliss, one teaspoon

Pumpkin, one pound, in chunky cubes
Salt, two teaspoons (or start with one and adjust to taste)

Bring kidney beans to boil in deep water; reduce heat and slow boil or simmer until they burst and are tender. Add sugar to beans and allow to continue to soften. Add water as needed to keep beans covered. Stir in cocoa powder when beans are soft, and remove from heat.

In a wide (dutch oven) pot, heat oil and saute onions, garlic, hot pepper and ginger until onion is translucent (or carmelized), Add tomatoes and stir. Cover and simmer until tomatoes are mush. Add pumpkin and cook until tender. Add red beans all at once, and cinnamon and chili or cayenne. Add water as necessary and allow to bubble or simmer for at least half hour to meld flavours. Add salt and simmer for another half hour, adding water to the soupy sauciness you want. Add more pepper if you want more heat. Adjust spices to suit your taste.

Serve with slices of boiled dasheen, or with fresh bread.

Cocoa chili with focaccia

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Coconut Bread

This is a simple bread that uses coconut milk and the grated coconut from fresh dried coconut for a delicious and substantial white bread.
Coconut bread, sliced

Prepare the dried coconut. I freeze the coconut. This makes it easier to remove from the shell. Slice the nut in convenient pieces and use a food processor to grind with about two cups water. Pulverize the coconut until it is relatively fine. Strain to remove the milk. Reserve the milk and the grated stuff in separate containers.

Flour, 6 or 7 cups, plus more
Water, 1 cup
Yeast, one heaping teaspoon
Salt, one heaping teaspoon
Coconut milk, one cup
Grated coconut, one to two cups

The night before, mix three cups flour, salt, yeast and water. Cover and leave overnight.

Next morning, mix in the coconut milk and grated coconut. Add more flour, three cups, mixing until just incorporated in the dough. No need to knead more than a couple minutes.Add more flour as you knead the dough, until it holds together. Shape into a ball and rest for an hour or so.

Dust a little more flour on the hands so you can handle the dough. Grease a cast iron pot or platter, and put the dough in the middle. Cover and allow it to raise about two hours or until small cracks appear on the surface and the dough has more than doubled.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Put bread in the middle. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Turn off heat and leave in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.  Cool on a bread board well before slicing.

Slice a round bread across the diameter. Then you can slice each half towards the diameter

Slices from half a round bread

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Baigan Pakoras

These are tasty fritters of baigan (melongene) slices coated in chick pea batter and fried. Serve them as snack food, with spicy chutney or a peppery sauce.

Baigan fritters, or pakoras

The Batter:
Chick peas powder, one cup
White flour, half to 3/4 cup
Salt, half teaspoon
Baking powder, teaspoon
Curry powder, heaping teaspoon (I used Chitra's Tropickle hand blended curry powder from the Green Market)
Water, one cup plus tablespoon(s) more as needed for a thick not runny batter

Melongene, one large firm but yielding
Coconut oil, one cup and more to deep fry

Slice the melongene in rounds. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to "spring water." Squeeze out and discard more liquid from the sliced melongene. Be careful not to tear the melongene slices.

Mix the melongene slices into the batter gently. Heat oil in a frying pan at medium. Make sure that each slice is coated in batter, and fry in the hot oil. Turn once and drain on absorbent paper or brown paper or newspaper.
Frying baigan fritters in coconut oil

Serve with a delicious tamarind or mango chutney.
This batter - like Japanese tempura - may be used for other vegetables, such as broccoli, sweet peppers, caraille. The batter may be dropped by teaspoonsful into hot oil for puhloorees.

Melongene slices, salted and squeezed

Batter made with chick pea powder and seasoned with curry powder.

Oatmeal cookies with Cocobel chips

This is a standard oatmeal cookie, from the Mom's Best old fashioned oats box. You can make it your own with raisins, special chocolate chips, nuts, chia or flaxseed.

Brown sugar, one cup
Butter, four ounces or one stick
Egg, one large
Salt, half teaspoon
Flour, 3/4 cup
Baking powder, half teaspoon
Old-fashioned oats, two cups
Cocobel chips, generous half cup

Cream sugar and butter (I use a spoon or fork to mix the sugar and butter.)
Beat in the egg.

Mix in flour, salt and baking powder. Add oats, nuts, chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoons or teaspoons on ungreased baking sheets. Make sure they are wide enough apart not to run into each other.

Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool enough to use a spatula to remove from the sheets.
Oatmeal with chocolate chips

If the cookies run together in baking, just cut them apart before they cool completely.

Overnight bread

This is a variation on the Iron Pot Bread that I've already posted four years ago. See the link here:

Flour, four cups white to one whole wheat (you can experiment with combinations)
Salt, teaspoon
Instant yeast, one teaspoon
Water, two cups

Mix together in a very big bowl. Bread is an inexact art, so a little more flour might make it stiffer, a little more water will make a gooey sponge. Cover and leave overnight (or for at least four or five hours.)

Next morning:
Add flour, a handful at a time, and mix into a big ball. Use your hands to knead. The dough should be soft and spongy rather than stiff. Cover and leave for an hour or so.

Grease an iron pot, deep ovenproof dish, or flat heatproof tray (a tawa works fine). I use a slick of coconut oil. Roll and reshape the dough ball with floured hands and put in the middle of the pot or tawa. Cover and leave for a few hours or until the dough has risen, about double.

Heat oven to 425F or 230C. Cover pot and bake bread for half hour; uncover (careful, very very hot) and bake for another half hour. If you are not using a pot, bake for 45 minutes or until the bread has a hollow sound when knocked. Cool well before slicing.

This was made in an iron pot, hence the perfect round!